Monday, July 24, 2017

Hokkaido Lavender Tour (part 2)

Hokkaido Lavender Summer Tour from 15-21 July 2017 ... if you would like to see Lavender in Hokkaido, the full bloom period is in the week of 22 till end July, but weather is hotter (as hot as in Kuala Lumpur). During that time, the cherries would be fully ripened also.

Sapporo Odori Park Beer Gardens – this is a special event held during summer time that starts from 20 July for about three weeks. The 1 kilometer venue seats about 13,000 people, and one can savor beers brought directly from breweries in Sapporo and its suburbs, as well as beers from around the world, are on sale; one can order food too to go with the beer. Sapporo View Hotel, where we stayed for two nights, is just conveniently situated across the street.

Hokkaido’s melons – this is the season for the orange-flesh melons, touted to be the sweetest melons available. Selling at around JPY3,000 (RM120) each for an ordinary fruit, we were tempted to try; and each slice is selling around JPY500 (RM19). On the third night where we stayed in Sounkyo Choyo Resort Hotel, this fruit was served as dessert during the buffet dinner, and we were pleased to have a chance to taste it.

Next Japan trip – picturesque Kyushu 九州 in autumn (not in 2017); do let me know if you are interested to join.

Do CLICK HERE to view part 2 of photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).
 Visiting Shikisai No Oka Farm ... a warm-up floral tour
 Rows of neatly arranged flowers
Good timing to see the flowers blooming
 Chris and Celine ... Furano, a town famous for flower fields, particularly Lavender
 Lavender almost in peak bloom
Farm Tomita, the best spot to view Lavender with the Takachi Mountain range as backdrop; besides the flower fields, there are cafes and shops that sell wide range of Lavender products 
 Furano Cheese Factory and participate in a DIY ice-cream session
 The fun of picking cherries and eating for 60 minutes – all you can eat
Abundance of sweet and juicy cherries 
 Visiting Ishiya Chocolate Factory that looks like a mini Disneyland ... famous for its "White Chocolate in between smooth cookies” 
 Back in Sapporo ... visiting the first office with the ancient clock still accurately run
 Visiting Odori Park with TV Tower in the background 
 Yours truly (KC Leong) posing with Henry, the experienced Japan tour guide
 End the day with a stroll along the famed Tanukikoji Shopping Arcade, the longest shopping street in Hokkaido
The tour ended with a delicious dinner savoring the long-leg big crabs – eat to your heart's content (free-flow request allowed). When exiting the restaurant, we saw the price list at the entrance that every plate of long-leg crabs cost JPY9,000 (RM340)
At Odori Park Beer Gardens with the guys on the final evening (before returning to Kuala Lumpur) ... When we returned from the suburbs to Sapporo on 19 July evening, we were surprised that there wasn't a single person at the Beer Gardens at 8:45 p.m. Later, we learned that the special event only opened a day later, from 12 noon to 9 p.m. daily. It was a stark contrast compared with the previous evening – the entire Beer Gardens were packed to the brim with people. At 8:45 p.m. the young sales ladies were walking around with placards signaling the last call to order drinks. . (this photo courtesy of Frankie Yap)  

Do click here to view Part 1.

Posted by KC Leong

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Hokkaido Lavender Tour (part 1)

Hokkaido Lavender Summer Tour from 15-21 July 2017 ... the group really enjoyed ourselves in this 7D5N tour in Hokkaido. we were having a good time staying in the 4- or 5-star hotels in Hokkaido that come with the onsen hot spring and bathing facility. We enjoyed the Japanese food very much, with a vast variety of choices. 

The weather was kind to us with the cooling temperature of around 25°C. The tour guide, Henry, informed us that in the preceding week, the temperature shot up to 35°C. 

As informed by Henry, most tour groups would only visit Farm Tomita; but our itinerary has an additional flowers field to visit: Shikisai No Oka Farm. According to plan, most flowers were blooming, and we were really excited seeing so much flowers blooming together. We were also very excited visiting the cherries farm, plucking and eating cherries for one hour - eat all you can. 

With 25 years of experience, Henry is from Hong Kong and speaks fluent Cantonese, Mandarin, English and Japanese. He even participated as a Cantonese-English translator for a few of the famous Hong Kong film stars. The 44-seater tour bus was only a few months old driven by a diligent and responsible bus driver, Mr Kawasan, ferrying us around for the entire tour. Every time we alighted from the bus, Mr Kawasan would wish us in Japanese "have a good day".

Do CLICK HERE here to view part 1 of photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).
 Visiting Chitose Salmon Aquarium ... Salmon fill the 20 tanks here, along with 60 types of northern freshwater fish that are bred and available for visitors to view. 
 Visiting Noboribetsu Date Jiadaimura to see the Edo era style buildings and to relive the history of samurai. In the photo: Camellia and Ronnie
 Visiting Jigokudani, also known as Hell Valley ... the sulphurous valley with boiling ponds and steaming streams 
 Overnight at Noboribetsu Manseikaku enjoying with the onsen bath ... (left) Tung, Kheng Lian, Annie, Eunice, Joanne, Alice, KL Tan
 Visiting the Bear Ranch which is located at the summit of a 550m mountain, and feeding the Ezo brown bears with biscuits.
 Passing by Lake Toya ... Celine Gan
 Otaru Canal .. where charming century-old stone warehouses lined the canal
 Visiting Otaru Music Box Museum ... and make a stop at Otaru Kitaichi Glass Factory, a famous glassware handicraft in Hokkaido.
 Putting up a night in Jozankei Milione and enjoy ourselves with a second onsen bath
 Visiting Asahiyama Zoo, a municipal zoo opened in July 1967
 Visiting Otokoyama Sake Brewery where we can see brewing equipment and sample Otokoyama sake for free
 Visiting Ryusei and Ginga Waterfall where one is a male waterfall; the other, a female waterfall
Putting up a night in Sounkyo Choyo Resort Hotel and enjoy ourselves with the third consecutive day of onsen bath. The hotel is just 10 meters from a river; opening the window at night when sleeping, one could hear the flow of the water and the air was extremely fresh.

Do click here for Part 2 (the flowers and cherries).

Posted by KC Leong

Monday, July 10, 2017

USJ Zhineng Qigong Pangkor Trip

Zhineng Qigong USJ Centres organized a 2D1N tour to Pangkor Island on 8-9 July 2017 with 80 chi gong members travelled in two tour buses. One of the highlights was to practise chi gong by the beach amid the sound of wave hitting the shore – a different kind of practice experience. The chi gong practice session was led by Alan Yu laoshi. 

Do CLICK HERE to view photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

 A main group photo at Fu Lin Kong temple, Pangkor Island

The attractions covered were:  
Pangkor Island: Dutch Fort, Fu Lin Kong temple, Lin Je Kong temple; buying of local produce;
Sitiawan: Tua Pek Gong temple; 
Teluk Intan: Leaning Tower (TILT); buying of local produce.
 Sunset at Pasir Bogak beach

In Pangkor Island, the group stayed at Coral Bay Resort, which is just a stone’s throw away from the Pasir Bogak beach. And for this short trip, five sumptuous meals were included: Saturday lunch at Bei King Restaurant, Sitiawan and dinner at Pangkor Island; Sunday breakfast at Pangkor Island, lunch at Sitiawan and dinner at Tapah.
 Pangkor Island in big letters

The group bought the famous Teluk Intan Liew Kee chee cheong fun in bulk with a whopping 200 packets! One can imagine the effort involved in taking the order from members, tallying the money, taking delivery, and dishing out according to the correct orders. But once we started to eat, it tasted so delicious and that justified the extra effort. We also went to buy the famous Tiger Head brand heong peah, until the mau san wong durian flavoured heong piah was out of stock. I could see the happy faces beaming with smile after the shopping.
 Practising chi gong by the beach; the group travelled a few hundred kilometers to arrive at this location

The organizing team was:
a. Tan Choon Huat, PSZQM President
b. yours truly, KC Leong
c. Alex Lim and Grace Lim.
 Good experience amid the sound of wave hitting the shore

Just before the practice session, I quipped that when they harvested the abundance of chi from the ocean, if I could see the fishes jumping up when taking photos, that means the chi was really strong.

We truly enjoyed the short trip with the good food, good camaraderie and getting to know other chi gong members.
 Spotted a hornbill flying above?
 Visiting Tua Pek Gong temple, Pasir Panjang, Sitiawan ... (left) Elaine, Lee Choo, Lew LW
 Happy face and beaming smile at Tiger Head brand confectionery
 At TILT (Teluk Intan Leaning Tower)
 The weights are used to balance the load so that the structure would not continue to tilt
 The famous Teluk Intan Liew Kee chee cheong fun ... it is really nice to eat; each packet sells at RM5.20
One of the delicious dishes of the five meals that span across three towns: Pangkor Island, Sitiawan and Tapah.

Do CLICK HERE here for other Zhineng qigong activities (scroll down the postings).

Posted by KC Leong

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

CBL Terengganu Hiking

CBL Terengganu 3D2N camping 1-3 July 2017 ... I truly enjoyed myself in hiking this CBL trail: the Langsir campsite is beautiful, and the water in the stream is clear and clean; Cemerong waterfall is magnificent, one of the highest waterfalls in Malaysia. We were doing a reversed trail: Langsir campsite, then Berembun peak, followed by Cemerong waterfall. The organizer of this hiking trip was Ms Leng HW; the mountain guides were Justin Chin and Mizan, each in-charged of 12 hikers.

In my opinion, every local hiker should try to hike this CBL trail. As for me, I would definitely revisit this CBL trail again in near future. 

CBL: Cemerong, Berembun, Langsir.

GPS coordinates and contact number: do scroll down the report.

Do CLICK HERE to view 110 photos courtesy of yours truly (KC Leong).

 The trail head of CBL hike ... We have to wait outside the park for the gate to open at 8:00 a.m.

Difficulty Level – it is similar to going up to the peak of Gunung Nuang. Round trip distance is about 15km (compare to round trip to Kem Pacat of Gunung Nuang which is about 18km). Many of the steep ascents in CBL are similar to Kem Pacat to False Peak of Gunung Nuang.

 A group photo before the start of the hike; on the left are two mountain guides (Mizan and Justin Chin)

Timing and Duration – for this hiking trip, we took the LBC trail (the reversed of CBL trail). 
(a) Trail head to Langsir campsite: 5 hrs (9:30am to 4:30pm … including one hour of lunch break at Kem B, another hour relaxing in Sungai Bangan Balu); 
(b) Campsite to Berembun peak: 1 hour; 
(c) Campsite to Cemerong waterfall: 5 hrs (8:30am to 2:30pm  … including 45 minutes of lunch break at Kem B); 
(d) Cemerong waterfall to trailhead: 1 hour.
(click map above for actual display and bigger file size)
 Justin Chin, the mountain guide, explaining the various trails

Descent the Mountains – On Day 3, we targeted to leave Langsir campsite at 8:00 a.m. after breaking camp and breakfast. The lead time required was at least two (2) hours. The team has to move a little faster to arrive at the Cemerong waterfall at around 2:30 p.m., and we targeted to return to trail head at 4:00 p.m.; refreshed, and proceeded to Gambang or Kemaman towns for dinner before returning to Kuala Lumpur.
 We regroup at this point, waiting for the next steep uphill challenge

Park Opening and Closing Hours – The main gate opens at 8:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m. daily. I was told that last time, hikers arrived at the trail head main building at 10:00 p.m., camp extra one night and ready at 8:00 a.m. the following morning. With the park closes at 6:00 p.m., this method may not be workable unless there is a special arrangement with the Park Office via the mountain guide.

 Arriving at Kem B for an one-hour lunch break ... clear water with many fish in the stream

Getting There – Travelling time from Kuala Lumpur is about 5 hours (only toilet break, no restaurant along the highway). The simplest method – but tiring to the driver – is to start the journey at 2:30 a.m. and target to arrive at the entrance of the park before 8:00 a.m. just in time for the briefing by the mountain guide at the start of the hiking journey. Another method is to put up a night at Dungun or Paka towns – one hour away to the trail head.

GPS Coordinates of CBL trail head:
4°39'27.0"N 103°00'14.0"E
4.657494, 103.003878
 A clean and bright Langsir campsite next to a clear-water stream

Packaged Tour – According to the mountain guide, Justin Chin, packaged tour for porter and catering service is available for hiking CBL trail: the support crew will carry the flysheet, groundsheet, cooking utensils and cook meals. Sleeping at campsite is communal style in rows. A participant just has to carry his/her own sleeping bag, clothing (Yes! bring warm clothes for the cold night) and drinking water, etc. Otherwise, the average weight of backpack containing the camping stuff is about 15kg. As for me, my 65 litres backpack weighted 17kg, and the heavy weight was a big challenge during ascent or descent of the mountains.
 Pitching tents ... my Kelty Salida-1 tent was easy to set up

Hiking CBL Made Simple – for those who would like to hike this scenic trail, contact the mountain guide for handling of the necessary permit application and detailed arrangement ... Tan Ji Kue: 012 989 2128. Have a good CBL hiking trip and enjoy yourself!

 Our simple dinner is ready (LimTH, Chee Sing, ChooKS) ... It was quite an effort to cook rice (with direct fire)  :-) For the two days of camping, the smell of burnt rice while cooking was a frequent happening (even from other tents) 
The water in the stream is clear and clean, and the tents are conveniently pitched next to it
 Day 3 morning ... break camp and proceed to Cemerong waterfall
 Arriving at Berembun peak, which is a 1-hour steep ascent journey from Langsir campsite (the 'B' of CBL)
 The magnificent Cemerong waterfall
Another view from higher ground

Posted by KC Leong